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Teachers College student Erin Hilgart (second from right) enjoys a free moment overlooking Seoul with colleagues during the IIPE.

Teachers College student Erin Hilgart (second from right) enjoys a free moment overlooking Seoul with colleagues during the IIPE.

The Peace Education Center of Teachers College, in collaboration with the UNESCO-affiliated Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU), organized the 2003 International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) in Seoul, Korea. From August 4 through 10 APCEIU hosted the institute that was attended by more than 100 participants from 22 countries.

Founded in 1982 by Betty Reardon, the Founding Director of the TC Peace Education Center (TCPEC), the IIPE is held annually in different parts of the world. It is a multicultural and cooperative learning experience in which participants learn from each other about substantive issues and interactive teaching approaches. It provides an opportunity for networking and community building among those who educate and work for a culture of peace, regionally and internationally. The program consists of plenaries, workshops, reflection groups, and visits to community projects.

Each year the IIPE explores a particular theme of interest within the host region. The theme of "Educating for Peace in Divided Societies" was chosen for 2003 to consider the challenge of educating toward justice, peace and sustainable development among peoples, nations, and regions deeply divided by political, ideological, cultural and religious differences. Various ways of teaching toward the healing of the divisions, the overcoming of violence, and the achievement of ecological balance, economic justice, and democratic participation were explored through workshops. Various governmental, NGO, and academic experts further informed participants to the Korean situation through the plenaries.

As in previous IIPEs, this Institute drew upon the experiences and insights of diverse peace educators and advocates from all world regions, including several previous attendees. IIPE 2003 also made possible new developments in the Peace Education Center's work, including further development of a research project on gender, demilitarization and peace education and a renewed collaboration with the UN-affiliated University for Peace in Costa Rica. It also furthered the Center's working relationship with UNESCO.

An important part of the IIPE is intercultural exchange and solidarity. In achieving this goal the IIPE maintains a balance in which at least half of the participants come from the local region. Visits to local NGOs, as well as relevant cultural and historical sites, are also integrated into the Institute. This year special trips were arranged to Panmunjom, the Joint Security Area in the DMZ, and to "My Sister's Place," a local NGO working to restore fundamental human dignity to sex workers living in U.S. military camp towns.

Upon hosting the IIPE, organizations become part of the Peace Education Center's Network, an international partnership coordinated by the TCPEC that creates cooperative endeavors in the development and dissemination of peace education. Recent IIPE hosts include: Miriam College, Philippines; Lebanese American University, Lebanon; Ashta No-Kai, India; National University, El Salvador; and International Christian University, Tokyo. IIPE 2004 will be hosted by Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey.

This year a dozen current and former Teachers College students were in attendance. Students enrolled in Teachers College also have the option of taking the IIPE for credit. For more information on the IIPE or other Peace Education Center programs please visit their Web site at: www.tc.edu/PeaceEd.

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